Day 1: Thursday, June 12, 2003|
San Francisco Airport to Downtown San Francisco, CA
Today's Mileage: 20 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 20 miles
started out with a few delays, as we had several hours of plane delays on
the way to San Francisco. When we finally arrived in San Francisco, we
spent several hours putting together our bikes in the airport and making
sure everything was working properly. We had a friendly biker-employee at
the airport actually escort us out of the airport as we followed him on
his bike. We then rode 20 miles on busy El Camino all the way into
downtown San Francisco. We checked in at a guest house - the Parker Guest
House - which was generously paid for by a friend of Bill's. We finished
the day with a good meal at a local restaurant called Chow.
Day 2: Friday, June 13, 2003|
San Francisco, CA to West Sacramento, CA
Today's Mileage: 80 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 100 miles
Today we began the trip officially with a photo in front of the Golden
Gate Bridge with the bikes in the water. Bill opted not to bring his bike near the sand and water for fear of soiling his spotless bike. Josh and Lee quickly learned a little something about how the ocean's tide works. We proceeded by taking a ferry
from downtown San Francisco to Vallejo, where we learned of two other bikers doing
the same thing as us - they were a few hours ahead of us.
Josh and Lee learn about this thing called "the tide."
In Vallejo we
had our very first flat, right in front of a bike shop, and let's just say
it was "operator error." Lee was the lucky person with the inaugural flat tire. It was a pretty much easy day but the first few
hill climbs really woke us up with all the gear we were carrying. Bill's trailer
is affectionately known as the "Yakima" in good times and bad. It has been cured a number of times. Bill is also a little concerned about his bike's gearing; his easiest gear is about the size of Josh and Lee's middle gear. By night fall we settled
down in West Sacramento at a KOA campground and enjoyed gourmet Ramen
The expression on Josh's face is priceless.
Day 3: Saturday, June 14, 2003|
West Sacramento, CA to Pollock Pines, CA
4,000 Feet of Climbing
Today's Mileage: 85 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 185 miles
started out with a 30 mile bike path through Sacramento which was sunny
and easy except for the occasional 7% grade climb. Today we also found
some errors on our maps which made navigation much more interesting. All
wrong turns seemed to involve hill climbing. On the plus side we found
some fresh fruit and vegetables being sold on the road side which made us
happy after lots of climbing. This was our first real day of serious
climbing. We finally got to the Sly Park State Recreation Area for camping and
met the two guys from Boston riding to Virginia.
Day 4: Sunday, June 15, 2003|
Pollock Pines, CA to Woodfords, CA
5,000 Feet of Climbing
Today's Mileage: 60 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 245 miles
For those of you who don't know what 5000 feet of
climbing is like (especially with loaded bikes), it's really hard.
Basically picture yourself riding your bike for 60 miles, which is hard
enough, and then imagine that almost all of the miles are significantly
uphill. So basically today was our second hard hill day, and we finally
reached the destination of Carson's Pass at 8573 feet. We enjoyed a big
lunch at the Kirkwood Inn restaurant, one of the only places to get food.
The woman at the restaurant and her boyfriend-cook were from Austin, MN so
that was interesting. We have been riding through the Sierra Nevada
mountains for the past two days and have many, many more mountain ranges
to cross over the next several weeks. We've had lots of good views of the
wineries as we've been climbing the mountains. We finished up in
Woodfords at a USFS campsite by the river.
Day 5: Monday, June 16, 2003|
Woodfords, CA to Fallon, NV
Today's Mileage: 92 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 337 miles
Today was mostly
downhill, though not much as we only went down to 4000 feet. We
officially crossed into Nevada today, and then went through the Capitol,
Carson City. We also met up with a biker from the Netherlands who was
riding from California to New York. We were also given copious warnings
about the desert heat in Nevada, and how there can be stretches of no
towns for 80 miles. We already knew that but it was good to be reminded
to carry extra water. We camped out in an RV park in Fallon after a
surprisingly hard day of riding a relatively uninteresting road (US
Highway 50, the Loneliest Road in America).
Finally crossing our first state line.
Day 6: Tuesday, June 17, 2003|
Fallon, NV to Austin, NV
5,300 Feet of Climbing (4 Mountain Passes)
Today's Mileage: 115 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 452 miles
Today was by far the most challenging day for several reasons.
First, it was around 100 degrees. Second, we were in the desert. Third,
we climbed 4 mountain passes. And finally there were pretty much no towns
the whole way. We lost a ton of salt, as evident by the white powder
stains gathering on all of our clothing and camel backs. We made a lunch
stop at a tiny settlement known as Middlegate (population 18) where the
cook (Carolyn) serves us really good sandwiches for $4.50. Later we
encountered a library where we attempted to get in touch with the Internet
but the library was closed Sunday through Tuesday. We also discovered the
effectiveness of the raisins we bought... they provide a lot of carbos but
lots of other fun stuff. Indeed it was a hard day, and that is a major
understatement. We arrived at a Baptist Church/RV Park combo place in
Austin, Nevada and all enjoyed the shower and meal after a heck of a day.
The modest-looking Austin Baptist Church
Day 7: Wednesday, June 18, 2003|
Austin, NV to Eureka, NV
3,100 Feet of Climbing
Today's Mileage: 70 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 522 miles
Today went by much faster due to some stimulating discussions involving
politics and religion, and Josh requiring to be as precise as absolutely
possible. We climbed 3 mountain passes and encountered lots of wind,
which made the downhills almost as hard as the uphills. We often wondered
whether we were going up or down, because it obviously was no help just
looking at the curvature of the road. We also witnessed a fairly massive
sand storm in front of us, so we opted for a short roadside break. We
made it to Eureka really early, found this library to write up our
journals, and camped out at a local park. Very refreshing!!!
Day 8: Thursday, June 19, 2003|
Eureka, NV to Ely, NV
Today's Mileage: 80 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 602 miles
Today was a fairly uneventful day as most are in Nevada. The biggest
challenge of the day was dealing with the crazy WIND!! We had headwinds
almost the entire day. Very intense.
US Highway 50, known as the Loneliest Road in America, which was our route for four days.
A message from Lee: Thus far the ride has proved to be very difficult.
Each day seems to present a new set of challenges that test our
perseverance. But our reason for pulling this bike trip off keeps our
minds focused and our passion alive. Armed with the "Cross for the Cure"
logo on our jerseys and other related information we have created a
positive impact on many by raising cancer awareness. We will continue
this effort as we travel further across the country. PS: I'd like to give
a shout out to the sisters at ACS.
Day 9: Friday, June 20, 2003|
Ely, NV to Baker, NV
Today's Mileage: 70 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 672 miles
Today was our final day in Nevada (thank goodness), and again we struggled
with whipping winds that put us at a snail's pace. Though there was a lot
of supposedly downhill sections, we renamed them to uphill descents"
because the wind prevented us from going much faster than when we are
climbing (like 6 mph). Another tough day in the desert. We ended up
camping in a tiny town in Nevada where we got to know most of the locals.
When a bird flew into the town's only power line and knocked out power to
the whole town, we let people know when the power was restored.
Day 10: Saturday, June 21, 2003|
Baker, NV to Milford, UT
Today's Mileage: 85 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 757 miles
Today we had to deal with the most serious winds. We were prevented from
going beyond Milford because the winds slowed us down to about 4 mph on
straight, flat sections. The people we talked to at gas stations thought we were crazy for biking in Utah. They were quick to point out that it is ALWAYS windy here.
Time to set our clocks ahead one hour. And it's the longest day of the year.
We learned that Utah is much prettier than
Nevada all around, but like I said, the winds are still bad. We found a great park to
camp in, but little did we know that the town was having some sort of a
"hoe-down" that night from 9pm to 2:30am. The music and dance was
extremely loud and got worse as the night progressed. Some of the music was actually not bad, but most was country-western and a bit too annoying to hear blasting above our tents. Bill got about two
hours of sleep. The local grocery store did not carry earplugs; we looked! Needless to say, Bill and Lee went searching for earplugs the next day.
Day 11: Sunday, June 22, 2003|
Milford, UT to 12 miles west of Panguitch, UT
6,000 Feet of Climbing
Today's Mileage: 102 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 859 miles
This day was extremely challenging. We encountered the steepest highway
in America (literally) at 14% grade for several miles. However, we were
rewarded with our first Subway restaurant stop on the trip which excited
us greatly. We all ordered 2 feet of subs. We also experienced our
coldest night - in the 40s.
You have no idea how happy Bill is that the Yakima trailer will be gone soon.
This day is also remarkable because it is the
day in which Bill decided to send back the Yakima trailer because it was
too much weight to carry over the mountains. Bill had to switch bikes with Josh on a few occasions. The way the swap worked, Bill got to use Josh's bike (with better gearing), but he had to attach the trailer to Josh's bike while he was on it. Josh then enjoyed a stripped down version of Bill's bike with no trailer but with fewer gears. The trade-off seemed fair, but it was annoying and the trailer was still too much to bear in the steep mountains. Bill sent it back home to Minnesota with
other miscellaneous stuff for $17 via the US postal service. What a deal. $17 to lose 28 pounds - the best weight loss program on the market!!
Lee is really starting to get the hang of this mountain business!
Day 12: Monday, June 23, 2003|
12 miles west of Panguitch, UT to Escalante, UT
Today's Mileage: 80 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 939 miles
We began the day with Bill breaking his chain, and discovering that the
chain does not work with his chain tool. Fortunately Nikki with Escape
Adventures drove by and gave us a free 9 speed chain, brand new!! The
SRAM model she gave us worked perfectly, unlike the stupid Shimano variety
he had before. We experienced wind strong enough to knock us over today,
especially while descending. The wind is amazing here.
Beautiful rock formations in Utah.
More beauty from Utah.
The daylight hours are running out on a challenging day.
Utah has several "natural" tunnels carved from the rocks.
The Grand Staircase.
Day 13: Tuesday, June 24, 2003|
Escalante, UT to Torrey, UT
4,500 Foot Climb
Today's Mileage: 64 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 1,003 miles
Today was yet another day of strong headwinds, and a section of road
called the Hogback which is like a ledge overlooking drop-offs of
thousands of feet on either side. We also had several more miles of 14%
grades. It looks like there are more than one "steepest highway in the United States"! Of course, if anyone was to prove this true, it would be us.
Josh refusing to smile for the camera on a two mile 14% grade.
By mid-day Josh got
extremely tired almost to the point of delirium, so we decided to cut the day short. Good thing,
because we experienced SNOW at the top of the mountain pass - it was actually
snowing all over us in the middle of June! There were parts of this day where Josh would not actually speak to Bill. There was a silver lining to this day, however. We were rewarded with a
Subway dinner at the bottom, which made Josh especially very happy.
Day 14: Wednesday, June 25, 2003|
Torrey, UT to Hite Recreation Area, UT
Today's Mileage: 97 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 1,100 miles
Today we woke up to freezing winds and temps. Later in the day Bill's
cassette decided to fall off his wheel. Fortunately it was not broken,
and Bill had a cassette installer tool so the repair was simple. Good
thing! At the evening we met friendly biker going from Los Vegas to
Calgary, Alberta. He was from Great Britain.
Day 15: Thursday, June 26, 2003|
Hite Recreation Area, UT to Dove Creek, CO
Today's Mileage: 124 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 1,224 miles
Today was characterized by STEEPNESS. More steep climbs. And our longest
day yet. We ended up in Colorado, and camped at a Midland Bean Company
The Devil's Highway is being renumbered, but not for another four days, so Bill wins a small bet.
Time to kiss the plains goodbye.
Day 16: Friday, June 27, 2003|
Dove Creek, CO to Sunshine Campground, CO
Today's Mileage: 90 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 1,314 miles
This day was a serious climbing day, as we mounted Lizard Head Pass at
over 10,000 feet. We had a lot of stimulating conversations to get us up
A beautiful new landscape.
Day 17: Saturday, June 28, 2003|
Sunshine Campground, CO to Dry Gulch Campground, CO
Today's Mileage: 115 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 1,429 miles
This morning was extremely cold - possibly 32 degrees. We had three big
climbs for 5000 feet of climbing. We stopped at Cascade Cycles in
Montrose, CO and Allen helped us out big time - thanks for his great
service and parts. We did had two flat tires this day, Josh and Lee,
which made our first two "natural" flats.
Day 18: Sunday, June 29, 2003|
Dry Gulch Campground, CO to Salida, CO
Today's Mileage: 80 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 1,509 miles
Today was another milestone as we topped Monarch Pass at 11,000 feet and
did some ore climbing. We met Lee's dad at Salida where he treated us to
a lovely hotel and steak dinner and several beers. Our first real meal,
and our first hotel! We were treated very well and got really clean!
Our highest mountain pass for the entire trip, and last substantial climb until the eastern US.
Day 19: Monday, June 30, 2003|
Salida, CO to Pueblo, CO
Today's Mileage: 100 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 1,609 miles
This was our last day of hills, and to celebrate Josh decided to crash on
the final descent. Fortunately he merely got several scrapes and his bike
was just casually bent in a few places. He is recovering just fine and
after 1 day his wounds were already healing quickly. We are now done with
mountains until near the East coast - the Appalachians. We met a guy and
his wife on a tandem who also had their 6 month old in a trailer, also
going across the country.
Day 20: Tuesday, July 1, 2003|
Pueblo, CO to Haswell, CO
Today's Mileage: 93 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 1,702 miles
Today we were given an offer to take a swim at a local's swimming pool during the midday heat (approx. 100 degrees). We accepted happily. Thanks so much to Mr. and Mrs. Trainor for the wonderful gift. Because of this extra diversion, however, we were delayed and only made it to a town called Haswell, which had a population of about 7, including the 3 of us. We camped in a park where pretty much everything had a sign saying "Not responsible for mishaps". Most of the building in town had burned down, been destroyed, or otherwise vacated. The only building standing in its entirety was the post office. The day consisted of serious headwinds, side winds, but no tailwinds. We had to stop at what we thought were towns, but what turned out to be little more than small patches of a few houses. It was very hard to find any reliable services, such as restrooms or even water along this stretch. We dreamed of ice, and looked forward to the sun going down. Heat index reached around 100 degrees. Exhausting!!
One of the several abandoned buildings in this completely dead town.
Day 21: Wednesday, July 2, 2003|
Haswell, CO to Scott City, CO
Today's Mileage: 125 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 1,827 miles
This was another hard, hot day so we got up at 4am to try to beat the heat. We began the day by having a flat tire before even leaving the park. No wonder they were "not responsible for mishaps"! We learned about the drought plaguing the 5-state area for the past 5 years, and as a consequence the states are having a whirlwind "10 day harvest" right now to get all the crops harvested before they all burn up again. Thus, we were passed on the road by large caravans of farm equipment on oversized semi trucks going 65mph and spanning both lanes in the highway AND the shoulders. A bit dangerous, but it was nice to hear that everyone was so excited about the 10 day harvest. Apparently they have all their grain elevators filled in Colorado and Kansas for the first time ever. At 2:00pm the nasty winds began, and slowed us down to a snail's pace. The heat index also rose up to the 100s again. A blistering hot day. Like biking into a furnace. We camped at a city park in Scott City and enjoyed 2 large pizzas at the next door Pizza Hut (in the air conditioning). We attempted to sleep afterwards but it was so hot that sleeping was near impossible until 10 or 11 at night, well after the sun went down. VERY HOT.
Getting about as excited as you can get over entering Kansas.
Day 22: Thursday, July 3, 2003|
Scott City, CO to Rush Center, KS
Today's Mileage: 90 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 1,917 miles
We began riding at 5am, after getting up at 4am again to beat the heat. Riding in the dark was fun. Very refreshing with a temp in the upper 70s/low 80s. However the temp. quickly rose all morning to reach an all time high of 108 degrees (actual temp., not the index!!!!). First time Kansas ever reached 108 degrees. We spent several hours cooling down at "Renzoil", a local gas station/store/restaurant (the local hangout). We shortened the day because the headwinds were coming at us at 30 mph and the temp was 108, which made it feel like biking directly into a furnace. We instead camped at a city park, and slept on top of picnic tables (instead of our tents) because of the extreme heat. Even on the tables we could not sleep due to the heat, until about midnight. We also met some bikers heading from Virginia. One was wearing flip-flops as his biking shoes. They seemed like very casual riders - not sure how they made it on such a light load!!
Day 23: Friday, July 4, 2003|
Rush Center, KS to Hesston, KS
Today's Mileage: 130 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 2,047 miles
Today was the 4th of July! We got up at 2:00am just to beat the awful heat. It was already in the 80s by 2:00am. We biked from 3am to 5am in the dark and enjoyed the light breezes. The rest of the day was spent riding as hard as possible before the midday heat. We also wanted to make it somewhere nice for the 4th of July. We made it to Hesston, where we had an overly warm welcome at the local grocery store. Just about everyone in town talked with us, explained how they were related to everyone else, and we eventually got an offer to stay in a friendly family's unused apartment above their garage. THANKS RENE!!! It was a wonderful evening of air conditioned sleeping in a lovely apartment that had more amenities than we have seen thus far in our journal. We were truly blessed. We went to bed at 7pm and woke up at 3:30am - we slept in!!!
Day 24: Saturday, July 5, 2003|
Hesston, KS to Toronto, KS
Today's Mileage: 106 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 2,153 miles
The biggest highlight of today was enjoying an ice cream social at a local town (Toronto). We can't stop thinking about ice cream on these hot days of 100 degree weather. So the ice cream social was very appealing to us. We sat down with the rest of the town and ate ice cream and learned a little more about small town life. We felt very welcome, as always. We again camped out on top of picnic tables because sleeping in a tent is somewhat like sleeping in an oven in these temperatures. It's even too hot for mosquitoes, so there's no need to worry about being bit at night. We all sleep in our boxers on top of our sleeping mats, and we are still sweating all night. VERY HOT!!! We go through about 400 ounces of water (per person) per day. We enjoy getting ice cubes at gas stations.
Day 25: Sunday, July 6, 2003|
Toronto, KS to Golden City, MO
Today's Mileage: 132 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 2,285 miles
The highlight of today was navigating the unmarked roads at 3am. We woke up at 2:00am again today to "beat the heat" and of course our route began with many unsigned roads. Flashlights came in handy. We used the most of our navigating skills, looking for landmarks, etc. As we entered Missouri we had a dog follow us for about a mile. He was a friendly dog, but definitely not the smartest as he swerved from lane to lane with not a care in the world. Welcome to Missouri. Thanks to Roger at the Tailwinds Cycle bike shop in Pittsburg, Kansas, who set us up with some misc. things that we needed to buy. We caught him just as he was on his way out for a bike ride, so he opened his shop for us to buy some things - convenient for a Sunday when no bike shops are open! He was the mechanic for a 2 time winner of the Race Across America. Nice guy and very helpful!
Our furry friend follows us across the state line.
Day 26: Monday, July 7, 2003|
Golden City, MO to Hartville, MO
Today's Mileage: 109 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 2,394 miles
Today we discovered the HIGH HUMIDITY of this region of the country. We finally lost the 100 degree weather but exchanged it for 80s and 90s with super high humidity. We experienced the foothills of the Ozark mountains, which are extremely steep. No more flat riding for us. ROLLER COASTER HILLS. Basically you get to the top of a huge hill, shift to a hard gear to go down, and then IMMEDIATELY are hit with a "WALL" which requires you to get into your granny gear... and the process repeats endlessly. Takes the fun out of hills. Our chains fell off several times, and Bill had to replace his. The designated campground for tonight was "court house lawn". No kidding, that was what our map said. Sure enough, we met some other cyclists on the court house lawn and we chatted about various things liberal, organic, and "green". These fellows also told us about all the bad things in all the food we have been eating thus far. We learned a lot, but we are still eating the same food thank you very much.
Day 27: Tuesday, July 8, 2003|
Hartville, MO to Ellington, MO
Today's Mileage: 109 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 2,503 miles
Still in Missouri, mainly because the Ozarks are the hardest mountain range we have experienced. This is not because of their height but because of their roller coaster like properties. They are also the steepest mountains we've ever seen. Basically they are vertical WALLS. For the first time we all thought about walking our bikes up the hills. But fortunately we never had to. We definitely shed some tears, however. Vertical walls are difficult to climb - try it sometime if you don't believe us.
Bill takes a dip in the freezing-cold springs.
We had an extremely pleasant diversion, however, from our usual huffing, puffing, and crying: Alley Springs and old mill. The mill interested Josh the most, while the freezing-cold springs delighted Lee and Bill, after carefully and slowly emerging their bodies into the rapidly moving springs, inch by inch, until every body part was completely numb by the cold temperature of the water. Bill and Lee did not mind, however, because nothing compares to climbing the Ozark mountain passes with temperatures in the 90s.
Lee and Bill chilling.
For more information about Alley Springs, see:
Day 28: Wednesday, July 9, 2003|
Ellington, MO to Chester, IL
Today's Mileage: 110 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 2,613 miles
We had one of the most interesting stops today at a bike shop in Missouri. The highly opinionated Tim White was the owner who gave us 3 and a half hours of political rhetoric (i.e. entertainment) for a 5 minute bike repair. Josh met a random local who offered to drive him to a meat market, so Josh cavalierly accepted and came back with 4 pounds of meat, courtesy of this friendly local. Nothing like free sausage after a hard day of biking. The drivers in Missouri, as we found out over the last 3 days, are extremely rude and, as one person put it, "don't seem to value cyclists." For that reason, we were excited to get out of the state!!! In Chester, IL we had a feast on sausage. That night we had our first thunderstorm and Bill's tent formed a small reservoir which, when emptied from his tent in the morning, was probably several gallons in size.
Day 29: Thursday, July 10, 2003|
Chester, IL to 4 miles west of Simpson, IL
Today's Mileage: 87 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 2,700 miles
Southern Illinois is a beautiful state to cycle through. The roads are in great shape, the scenery is the best we've had, and there are biker signs everywhere. It seems like a very cyclist-friendly state. The drivers are nice too. We stopped at a local cafe and learned that cyclists get FREE dessert (thanks to the folks at the Late Bloomers "Now" Cafe in Goreville!!!). We all indulged in various desserts. We also saw an interesting roadside sign: "Watch out for hounds, horses, and babies - next 4 miles." Not sure what the 3 have in common. Lee also had his 7th fall on his bike, but as usual did not injure himself. We camped out at a ranch which made it very clear that "NO NEGATIVE COGGINS" are allowed. Unfortunately we were unable to decipher what that phrase meant. Hopefully we were OK.
Day 30: Friday, July 11, 2003|
4 miles west of Simpson, IL to Sebree, KY
Today's Mileage: 103 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 2,803 miles
Today was another wonderful day of cycling, despite the high humidity. We spent part of the afternoon picking blueberries on the side of the road. They were delightful. We took a ferry to cross from Illinois over to Kentucky - over the Ohio River. The highlight of the day was staying at the First Baptist Church in Sebree, KY - the pastor brought us indoors to a brand new renovated addition, where we had a full kitchen, bathrooms, shower, individual rooms to sleep in, everything! An amazing indoor accommodation, and so much appreciated!
Crossing into Kentucky.
Day 31: Saturday, July 12, 2003|
Sebree, KY to Sonora, KY
Today's Mileage: 118 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 2,921 miles
Today we saw lots of horse drawn carriages as we passed through Amish country. We also experienced our final time zone change into the eastern time zone, which excited Josh beyond words. We camped out at a Methodist church and enjoyed talking with the pastor, as we had done at the Baptist church the night before. This time we were outdoors but it was a great place to stay.
Day 32: Sunday, July 13, 2003|
Sonora, KY to Burgin, KY
Today's Mileage: 107 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 3,028 miles
Today was fun because we had a 1 hour flat tire early in the morning. Lee got a flat a few miles behind Josh and Bill and then we had trouble finding the right sized tire, etc. We were performing the bike repairs in front of a house and I believe the family went to church and came back all in the time we were fixing the flat. The biggest highlight of the day was the ominous looking Heaven's Hill distillery in Kentucky. We also went through several "dry counties", which is odd considering the number of distilleries. That night we camped at a Christian Church in Burgin.
Day 33: Monday, July 14, 2003|
Burgin, KY to Booneville, KY
Today's Mileage: 100 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 3,128 miles
This was "DOG DAY". A dog "the size of a train" ran right in front of Lee and Lee flew over his handle bars. The only damage was a slight scratch to Lee's shoulder - no big deal. We got 6 free oranges out of the deal from the dog owner. However, we proceeded to be chased by 20 to 30 dogs over the course of the day, many of which got dangerously close to us. The eastern part of Kentucky is VERY poor, and consequently also kind of "OFF" in the sense that many things just didn't quite seem right. The drivers were extremely dangerous, people in their yards didn't look quite right, and the few people who spoke to us didn't sound quite normal. We found out that Kentucky also has many drug problems, and that we were biking through the 3rd poorest county in the USA. Very sad, and at times seemed rather scary. We stayed at a very nice Presbyterian church which had a special biker shelter and campground, complete with bathroom and shower! Very nice way to end the stressful day.
Day 34: Tuesday, July 15, 2003|
Booneville, KY to Melvin, KY
Today's Mileage: 92 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 3,220 miles
Today was marked by busy highways with lots of debris in the shoulders, fast cars, and lots of coal trucks. Coal mining is the main industry in this area. Josh had lots of technicals today and yesterday, mostly involving his wheels, brakes, and tires. We ended the challenging day camping on the lawn at a grocery store in Melvin, where we got to know the friendly owners and learned all about Kentucky history and how it's doing today.
Bill and Lee taking a power nap at a gas station.
Day 35: Wednesday, July 16, 2003|
Melvin, KY to Rosedale, VA
Today's Mileage: 84 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 3,304 miles
Today involved some extremely steep and long hills - we are DEFINITELY in the Appalachian mountains in case we forgot!!! We stayed at a Methodist Church in Rosedale that had a special biker shelter and gave us all kinds of free food. We enjoyed using their full kitchen, and slept in the sanctuary after choir practice was done. The pastor was mowing the lawn and made us feel very welcome. We also met two other bikers there, one from the Netherlands and one from Montana, both crossing the USA (in opposite directions however). A great place to sleep!!!
Words cannot express how happy we are to leave Kentucky -- and dogs -- behind.
Day 36: Thursday, July 17, 2003|
Rosedale, VA to Wytheville, VA
Today's Mileage: 95 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 3,399 miles
Today was a monumental day for bike repairs. We found an amazingly
friendly bike shop in Damascus, where Josh and Lee got their bikes checked
over. Amazingly, Josh discovered that he had been riding on an extremely
damaged rear wheel - several of his spokes were breaking through the
rims, causing the rims to be ripping apart at several points along the
wheel. Basically the wheel was about ready to completely collapse on
itself, and we caught it just in time. The dude at the bike shop told
Josh that he was a very lucky guy for not discovering this too late on a
40 mph mountain descent!! This was a beautiful biking day in Virginia,
with lots of good climbing and lots of fog as we ascended and descended
various mountains. Our stay in Damascus (at library and bike shop) took
3.5 hours from our day but we still managed to get a full day of riding.
Day 37: Friday, July 18, 2003|
Wytheville, VA to Troutville, VA
Today's Mileage: 101 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 3,500 miles
One of today's biggest highlights was picking raspberries. We found
several large patches of raspberry bushes and spent a good hour collecting
some nutrition. We rode by this fancy experimental road/bridge being used
by General Motors in a project developed to test intelligent cars that
essentially drive themselves on "intelligent" roads that are all
computerized. The road was on a huge bridge spanning a valley between two
large mountain peaks. The bridge didn't appear to even have guardrails.
Today we made very good time and camped at a nice park in Troutville, just
on the outskirts of Roanoke.
Day 38: Saturday, July 19, 2003|
Troutville, VA to Vesuvius, VA
Today's Mileage: 65 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 3,565 miles
Today was another stroke of mechanical luck, this time for Bill. At 5am
we got out of bed and were ready to go by 6am. Then Bill's CamelBak
springs a leak, which delays us 15 minutes. Then the rain storm picks up
and thunder and lightning causes us to delay our leave time by an hour and
a half. By 8am we decide to go for real, and Bill suddenly takes a spill.
As Bill just got on his bike and was approaching speeds of 1-2 mph, the
stem on his bike suddenly snapped in half [the stem is what connects the
handlebars to your bike frame] causing Bill to topple over, and the bike
Bill on the ground after his stem snapped.
Josh and Lee promptly tried finding someone to drive
Bill to a bike shop while Bill researched the best bike shop to go to.
Fortunately Bill found a bike shop open on Saturday morning and Josh and
Lee found a friendly volunteer fire fighter (THANKS DUANE!!!) who drove
Bill to Roanoke to Cardinal Cycle (thanks folks at Cardinal!) to get a
replacement stem. By 10:30am we were finally off, which explains our low
mileage for the day. Lee had a few minor technical problems with his
rack, and Josh had some issues with his wheel, but nothing else serious
The broken stem.
With so many technical issues we decided to treat ourselves to
a lunch at Donitello's Italian restaurant in Lexington, a very beautiful
historic town. We ended the day at the field behind Gertie's Country
Store in Vesuvius, where Boyd made us felt at home. He even directed us
to some "sweet water" in the local stream - the streams are so clean that
the locals all drink from them!!! Boyd even directed us to a swimming
hole where we took a dip in the river (COLD!! but so clean) and we took
showers and swam for a bit. He also invited us to church the next morning
which we accepted gladly - it felt so good to take a little bit of time
off constant hard riding.
Taking a pre-church bath.
Day 39: Saturday, July 20, 2003|
Vesuvius, VA to Afton, VA
Today's Mileage: 34 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 3,599 miles
Today we began by sleeping in because church was not until 9am, so we put
on our "Sunday best" (i.e. non-stinky t-shirts and shorts) and went to
Emory Methodist Church for a wonderful service. We met the whole
congregation (about 20-30 people) and felt so welcomed by the pastor and
locals. Thanks to Pastor Jim Simmons and the guest preacher Bob for the
warm welcome. After church they had a pot luck brunch, which we were also
welcomed to and were very well fed at! The church even gave us a $200
donation which was extremely kind and so appreciated. By 1:00pm we began
working again, and we began with a steep 4 mile climb to Blue Ridge
Parkway, which was the STEEPEST, LONGEST hill we have encountered yet.
Josh and Bill even had to stop mid-way to catch their breathes. (no
walking, however!!) 4 miles basically straight to the top of the mountain
Lee and Josh with the Cookie Lady.
We met some rock climbers along the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is a
beautiful 500+ mile long road maintained by the National Park Service that
runs along the crest of the Blue Ridge mountains, part of the Appalachian
mountains. We finished the day by reaching "The Cookie Lady" in Afton,
who is a legend for Trans-America bikers. She runs a donations-only bike
hostel (4 bedrooms) which contains thousands of items of memorabilia from
Trans-Am bikers since 1976.
Lee and Bill with the Cookie Lady.
She has hosted over 11,000 bikers since 1976.
She was very hospitable and her bike house was so fun to stay in. For the
first time we had all the things necessary to make pancakes in the
morning! If you do a Google search for The Cookie Lady of Afton, you will
probably find all kinds of neat Web pages about her. She is truly a
legend. And her cookies were not bad either!!
Some of the memorabilia.
For more information about The Cookie Lady, see:
Room #3 of 4.
Day 40: Monday, July 21, 2003|
Afton, VA to Warrenton, VA
Today's Mileage: 111 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 3,710 miles
We are now back at respectable mileages after our lost time due to Bill's
broken stem. Today was challenging with endless undulating hills on the
scenic Skyline Drive, a continuation of the Blue Ridge Parkway, for 77
miles. It was worth the challenging terrain, however, because the speed
limit was limited to 35 mph and there were no commercial vehicles and
breathtaking views as we cycled along the crest of the Blue Ridge
Mountains. We even encountered two black bears along this stretch of
highway, though the bears were much more scared than us. The second ran
across the road just in front of Bill. When we reached Warrenton for the
first time we were denied access to camp in the park, even after
explaining our journey and talking to the police chiefs. So instead, we
camped in the field behind the fire station, which was a fun change. We
chatted with the volunteer fire fighters and watched as they did some very
wet drills in the field (BEFORE we pitched our tents!!).
Day 41: Tuesday, July 22, 2003|
Warrenton, VA to Washington, DC
Today's Mileage: 86 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 3,796 miles
Today was definitely one of the more "urban riding" days we've had since
San Francisco. As we left Warrenton we ended up on some quasi-freeways,
got lost once, and then had to make turns about every mile for about 20
miles before hitting the Mt. Vernon Bike Path all the way to Washington,
Washington, DC means we have reached the east coast!
We arrived in D.C. around 2:00 so we had a few hours to tour around,
and then we met Bill's good friend from Minnesota, Justin Wilson, who works
for the National Review in Washington, D.C. He went out to dinner with us and then
brought us to his apartment across the river in Virginia to stay for the night, which was so much
appreciated. We all took showers and got cleaner than we had ever been since the hotel room in Colorado. Bill got a chance to enjoy Justin's wonderful Apple iBook computer, and before heading to bed we relaxed on the roof of the tall apartment building. The views of Washington, D.C. were amazing.
The three of us are still happy 3,800 miles later!
Our nation's capitol.
The three of us "chilling" at the top of a 12 story apartment complex in Washington, D.C. Thanks Justin!
Day 42: Wednesday, July 23, 2003|
Washington, DC to Reisterstown, MD
Today's Mileage: 72 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 3,868 miles
Yesterday evening our host, Justin, bumped into Rep. Jim Ramsted and he
indicated that we could meet with him in the morning. Unfortunately
however, this did not occur. We also contacted the offices of Senator
Mark Dayton and Senator Norm Coleman but they too had a schedule that did
not quite work for us. As we attempted to leave the DC area, we got lost
multiple times and traveled about 5 miles in one hour. At one point we
got assistance from a fireman who felt sorry for us trying to
get directions from a contractor on the side of the road who did not seem
to speak English. Much of the trip was spent on uncomfortably busy roads
in Maryland, most of which were in disrepair, making it quite challenging
to ride. When we finally made it out of DC, a woman pulled up next to us
in her car and offered us a place to stay. Seeing as though it was 10
am, we couldn't justify accepting the offer.
Riding up the busy east coast.
Day 43: Thursday, July 24, 2003|
Reisterstown, MD to Reamstown, PA
Today's Mileage: 111 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 3,979 miles
Today we crossed the Mason-Dixon line to enter Pennsylvania. The roads
today were much better which made for a fairly fun and easy ride. Much
of the end of the ride was through Amish and Mennonite communities. We had
the hardest time ever finding a place to camp. Bill called the police and
talked with Officer Friendly but sadly the timing was bad because the
night before, the police chief instructed all officers to deny any
requests for camping on public lands. However, Officer Friendly finally
gave in and let us camp by the fishing park and we kept ourselves
concealed from the police chief. We were not discovered, thankfully.
Day 44: Friday, July 25, 2003|
Reamstown, PA to Stockton, NJ
Today's Mileage: 96 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 4,075 miles
We began the day by eating breakfast at an old 50s diner called Silk City
and had a fabulous breakfast. Karen was the birthday girl at the cashier
counter (just turned 21) and was repulsed by our water bottles when we
requested some water. She had an attitude problem. In the morning ride
we went by Valley Forge national park, which was very historical. We then
Norristown to meet Bill's mom at precisely 12:00 noon for lunch - she had
just moved to Philadelphia so the timing was perfect. This meal, at our
second diner of the day, was complemented by an emotionless,
uninterested, quickly moving waitress. The meal, however, was good.
Lunch with Bill's mom at the Sunshine Diner.
lunch we experienced the most awful, congested, uncomfortable 20 miles of
rush hour traffic on roads worse than ever before experienced. We finally
made it to a lovely rail trail where we pitched our tents in a secluded
area off the trail.
Much of New Jersey is spent on trails and scenic roads.
Day 45: Saturday, July 26, 2003|
Stockton, NJ to 4 miles north of Montague, NJ
Today's Mileage: 100 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 4,175 miles
This morning Josh had a rather serious and loud tire blowout (the tube
poked out of a large gap in the tire and exploded). After an hour of
analysis and replacements we were back on our way. Today we had nice
roads. We rode through Delaware Gap National Park which had some scenic
riding. We learned that neither PA nor NJ have "welcome" signs for their
states, at least on the roads we took. We also saw a large, ominous
looking nuclear power plant today. We ended the day by camping at a
really nice private campground where we were given the night's stay as a
donation to the cause of the trip.
Day 46: Sunday, July 27, 2003|
4 miles north of Montague, NJ to Pine Plains, NY
Today's Mileage: 113 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 4,288 miles
This morning Josh began the day by crashing off the side of a straight,
flat, newly-paved, well-defined road that had a very large drop-off at the sides of the fresh
pavement (new pavement was 8 inches above the ground). We don't know why
Josh decided to ride off the road, but nonetheless he made this decision
and we helped him to get back on the road, 8 inches above. We then went
past some historical sites like the Franklin D Roosevelt home and the
Vanderbilt mansion. We also crossed the lovely Hudson River. We ended up
camping at a ballpark and finished the day early - 6:00pm.
Day 47: Monday, July 28, 2003|
Pine Plains, NY to Stafford Springs, CT
Today's Mileage: 98 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 4,386 miles
Today Josh had a rear spoke break on his famous $40 new rear wheel [this
means it is a low-quality wheel; the strongest touring wheels are $180 or
more]. So, we contacted a bike shop in the area for help replacing the
spoke, but unfortunately the "gentleman" wasn't very receptive to our
asking of directions to his shop. In fact, he was so irate that he
threatened to charge us $10/hour for giving directions and, furthermore,
that he would "come and find us" if we did not stop "bothering" him. He
said that he "does not want to fix our bike" and that we should "go
somewhere else." We did precisely that. At the second bike shop, we
leveraged our time very wisely by fueling up on pizza at the next door
pizza restaurant. We also discovered that Bill's [expensive] rear real
also had a problem - a cracked rim by a spoke. Bill decided to let it go
for the last day. We ended the evening by biking another 20 miles and
enjoying ice cream at a happening small town and camped at a senior
We are so close to Massachusetts we can barely stand it.
Day 48: Tuesday, July 29, 2003|
Stafford Springs, CT to Dedham, MA
Today's Mileage: 75 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 4,461 miles
Today was our final "real" day of the trip, as we made it all the way to a
suburb of Boston called Dedham. Josh has a family friend in this town
who offered to host us at their house until our airport departure. This
was extremely kind and we greatly appreciate the hospitality of John Loder
and his family. We mapped our own route from the official Atlantic Coast
bike route to the town of Dedham, and we arrived early - 2:00pm! We spent
several hours at the friendly Dedham library where we had such an
amazingly warm welcome. We extend a very sincere thank you to the helpful
people at the Dedham library! We were interviewed by the Dedham Times
newspaper as well, and look forward to seeing the article that is written
about our trip. Thanks especially to Walter for his excellent help,
restaurant advice, and generosity! Mr. Loder took us out for an excellent
Indian dinner near Dedham and we celebrated with some local beer and some
excellent wine from John's wine cellar.
Day 49: Wednesday, July 30, 2003|
Dedham, MA to Boston, MA (and back)
Today's Mileage: 26 miles|
Trip Total Mileage: 4,487 miles
Today we made the final leg of our journey from John's home to the
Atlantic coast near downtown Boston (Columbus Park in South Boston). We
explored parts of busy Boston, stopped by three bike shops, and explored
several bike paths and busy roads. We snapped a photo with all of us on
the ocean, to adequately complete the journey. Perhaps the most
interesting highlight of the day was getting a tour of the Samuel Adams
Boston beer company brewery, which even included taste testing at the end.
We intend to spend the next day exploring more of Boston and will then
head back home to Minneapolis on Friday, August 1 at 6am in the morning,
just on schedule.
Beautiful downtown Boston.
4,500 miles later, on the Atlantic Ocean, and it looks like Josh and Lee have learned about the tide!
TRIP COMPLETED SUCCESSFULLY!